The ending of a journey... graduation. Some journeys are short and simple, others full of growth and span long lengths of time. As a mom I have experienced a few; preschool, kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, and military. Each a marked place in time, full of promise and hope ahead.
Last summer my baby boy of 22 years old, Greg, had made a commitment and left for boot camp. I remember the quiet ride home with his fiance, Samantha, his dad and myself. It is always hard letting go, and I had made this same trip with my other son, who left for the Air Force. It is a mixture of emotions; sadness, pride and hope.
I remember that first call home, he sounded so scared, so worried...thinking on the changes in his life since he signed on the dotted line. But he knew he had responsibilities, and he had to follow through.
So over the next months we mailed many cards and letters and ran for the mailbox to hear news from him. Some weeks seemed to drag by slowly, like honey on the coldest winter day.
When we began to make the plans for the trip to his graduation, time suddenly buzzed with excitement. Reservations and flights were scheduled. The aniticipation continued to build.
We arrived with others. Boys and girls from all over our country would be graduating that morning, and families were converging.
Sunshine just peeking up, we headed out to the parking lot to meet my oldest with his family. He stepped out in his uniform. The vision of him in uniform always makes my heart skip a beat. We have some quick greetings and hugs as we climb in the vehicles to caravan over.
Past the gate we meet up with all the family and wait in line some more. The expectation of the day continues to build as we look around.
We find Samantha and her mom, she is shaken with elation, emotion to match mine.
Finally in the bleachers we take in the sights and sounds. Eyes on all the families, wondering about each of their stories. We keep watch on all the setting up, watching the films of scenes from bootcamp days. The grandsons distract my attention some, lots of hugs and kisses, and listening to their stories of their road trip.
Finally...the drum begins the beat. The noise in the bleachers change. All eyes move to the door ahead, an immense garage door. Around us men and woman stand at attention. The drum comes closer and closer. And suddenly, the door opens up and as it raises higher, we see the sight of their feet marching in precision to the beat. White legs emerge. Standing straight and tall, heads held high... there are our boys and girls! The lump in my chest moves to my throat. The tears that were hidden come from behind. And as they march in with the sun behind them, you can feel all around me the pride and love we have for these young men and women. It is a moment when those doors open I could never explain. As I look forward I catch sight of my son. I look beside me, my oldest at attention and saluting. Another amazing moment for a mom...
A beautiful ceremony continues and we swarm like bees when it is done. A sea of sailors to swim through to find the right one. But mine stands 6' 2" above the crowd. I wait as he greets his love first, and then it is Mom. My arms fold around my baby boy, now a man.